24 May London Fire Brigade chief claims more than 1,000 homes still have safety failings five years after Grenfell
Nearly five years after the Grenfell fire, London Fire Brigade (LFB) chief Andy Roe has claimed that more than 1,000 residential buildings in the city still have serious safety failings.
The 2017 fire at Grenfell Towers killed 72 people and has been noted as one of the UK’s worst modern disasters. As a result of a public inquiry into the causes of the Grenfell fire, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced a new Fire Reform White Paper to address the fire risks of current buildings in London and around the country.
LFB Commissioner Andy Roe welcomed the new legislation. However, he has said more needs to be done to tackle dangerous structures and ensure residents know their methods of escape in the event of a fire. He also warned rogue property owners that the brigade now has the power via the Fire Safety Act 2021 to crack down on them “as soon as possible”.
Roe said: “We have already warned London’s building owners and managers that this was coming and we will use these new powers if they aren’t meeting their legal responsibilities.
“So we are again reiterating our calls that they need to take urgent action to fix their buildings if there are serious failings.”
The LFB will work with the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) and the government to ensure that safety checks are done in a consistent manner. However, Roe warned about the need for landlords to commit to protecting residents: “We still need to see a culture change in the industry when it comes to fire safety in residential buildings.”
Roe also pushed the government to prioritise the outlining of Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) for buildings so that residents know what to do if a fire does occur. In response to the recommendations of the Grenfell inquiry, the government has launched a consultation to support the fire safety of residents whose ability to self-evacuate may be compromised. Roe said: “It’s vitally important that people feel safe in their own homes and have certainty about how to leave their building in the event of a fire or other emergency.”
The government’s white paper also aims to “improve accountability” by transferring fire governance to an elected individual, who will oversee chief fire officers. Patel described the proposed legislation as “transformative” for the training of firefighters.
She said: “The Grenfell tragedy must never happen again and we are continuing to drive forward progress on putting the Grenfell Tower Inquiry recommendations into law.”